Are Desiring God & John Piper shifting to “Biblical Patriarchy” over complementarianism, following Gregg Harris’, Bill Gothard’s, Scott Brown’s, Doug Phillips’ and Doug Wilson’s courtship model?
The champions of patriarchy worked hard last week, busy on the front lines by saving the world through their insight and wisdom. On June 11, Desiring God announced on their blog that they’ve made their new book available as a free download. It bears the title Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood. (Desiring God is the name of the website of John Piper’s ministry to the world as the new Calvin.)
From what I gather from Piper’s introduction in Good, it is an effort on the part of the aging masthead men who pioneered complementarianism to launch the mosaic generation leaders into their roles as the new generals in their culture war. Hannah Thomas read the first two chapters and wrote about this new “comp” effort on her blog, Emotional Abuse and Your Faith. It seems that the book just offers more straw men — ridiculous examples of people who don’t exist that allegedly believe all sorts of horrible things. Everyone is just confused about the way that things really are, and we need these great young ones to share with us the hidden wisdom that I guess no one has been able to figure out before.
The very next day, just in time for Father’s Day, Desiring God offered us another gem of insight and inspiration to help us unenlightened ones figure out how to live our lives called Dads, Date Your Daughters’ Boyfriend. We’ve heard for years at this point about gender roles, though many have pointed out that the only word in New Testament Greek that comes close to the word “role” is the one from which we derive our English word of “hypocrite.” Well, now Desiring God instructs fathers of daughters in yet another they must fulfill: the “role in his daughter’s pursuit of marriage.” All I could say at first concerned my relief that the article noted neither reference to nor instruction in daughters and shaving — a favorite pastime at a once annual Vision Forum event. (Gag.)
Some of the statements were not unreasonable at all — but others sounded strikingly familiar. Perhaps Piper picked up some of the “Biblical Patriarchy” home schooling and courtship ideology taught by Doug Wilson who now blogs at Desiring God? Wilson has been a featured speaker at Piper’s conferences for several years, and Piper now endorses Federal Vision as legitimate doctrine (though several denominations have denounced it). Then again, perhaps Piper is just reiterating some ideas that he picked up from Gregg Harris? After all, Gregg’s son Josh wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye: the definitive book on courtship within the homeschooling movement. Hmmm.
Patriarchy and Quiverfull
Seven years ago, the daughters of Geoffrey Botkin and family “served his vision” by making a video about “Stay at Home Daughters” (SAHD). The film entitled The Return of the Daughters heralded the message that the best place for young women was at the sides of their families until they were given in marriage to their husband and spiritual covering. It spoke of courtship and what sounded to my husband and me like daughter ownership. The film meant to illustrate the lifestyle that the Botkin Daughters (the Visionary Daughters) wrote about a few years earlier in their Vision Forum book, So Much More.
As stated earlier, not every point made in the Desiring God article about daddies dating their daughter’s boyfriends sounded like the courtship movement that is so popular in Evangelical circles these days, especially among homeschoolers. But so much more of it sounded just too familiar.
My GOTHARD ALERT sounded when I read the advice to daughters that they should consider breaking up with their boyfriend if they had misgivings about letting that boyfriend meet their father. Gothard teaches that everything you do as a young adult (and I assume as an old one) must be first cleared by your parents. This is part of the hammer/chisel and umbrella of authority concept proffered by Bill Gothard (and many others). Of course, all of this sounds more and more like courtship with every word. Dating just to get to know someone to see if the relationship develops sounds sinister from the tone of the article. But my stay-at-home-daughter SAHD ALERT sounded as well. It definitely went off when I got to the part where the phrase “get to know an older godly man.” My CREEP METER has been sensitized because of my memories of the “Extras” section on the Return of the Daughters video.
Tips for Discipleship in Dating?
The other issue that bothered me about the Desiring God article concerned this idea of the mentoring and discipling of a potential suitor for a daughter by that daughter’s father. A young woman leaves her father’s house and cleaves to her new husband, according to Scripture. In the patriarchy movement associated with high-demand homeschooling, there is much talk of taking and making a daughter’s potential mate over into the preferences preferred by the daughter’s father and his family. There’s even a picture of some poor young man receiving a Confederate Flag from his love interest floating about, as he was supposed to embrace Christian Reconstruction and the neo-Confederate beliefs that often come along with the package.
There are many lists of questions that patriarchs are supposed to ask young men before they’re permitted to court their daughters. The older ones come from old John Thompson and Phil Lancaster. There are also many new ones floating around among the likes of RC Sproul, Jr. and his circle of friends (read more here). And Botkin has his 200 Year Plan, after all. Interviewing and testing the candidates proves essential. I’m surprised that Desiring God didn’t offer their own longer list of considerations, and perhaps they will. They will find much material for comparison online.
* * *
Below are two audio recordings taken from the aforementioned Return of the Daughters film “extras.” If you’ve read the post at Desiring God, please take time to listen to these segments as well.
Are there similarities?
Is any of this good or bad?
Hmmm. I’m still pondering, but my “alert system” has definitely activated, and my creep meter is alarming. I hope that no one takes this new opining concerning courtship at Desiring God too seriously. (…at least not as seriously as homeschooling embraced the same sort of message.)
Scott Brown, director of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches and his daughter, Kelly (Brown) Bradrick (wife of the “Phillips disowned” Peter Bradrick):
68 thoughts on “Desiring God and Daddies Dating…Their Daughters’ Boyfriends? Is John Piper Promoting Patriarchy?”
Cindy, excellent article. When we first started talking about it, I was stunned about the direction toward Patriarchy in the Desiring God article posted right before Father’s Day. I had no clue that so many in the Homeschool Movement had connections and may in fact have helped to influence the school of thought in Piperland. The Homeschool Movement has been a powerful voice even outside the confines of homeschooling communities infiltrating and trying to gain credibility and respect by other Christian leaders.
It’s not too much of a stretch to infiltrate strong complementarian camps to this kind of teaching. Buyer beware!
Remember, Piper grew up under Bob Jones’ influences. That is where he comes from. He has always been a fundy it is just that his flowery passion, verbosity and arm waving seemed to dull people’s senses. How many years ago was the True Womanhood conference where he taught? Remember that one?
Before he left Bethleham it was instituted that women could not read scripture aloud in worship as that would be “teaching men”.
This is a man who acutally excommunicated his own son. HIs other son, Barnabas, left the Baptist church over infant baptism, joined the Presbyterians wrote about it and then took a high paying job as “content” manager for Lifeway which is SBC! So I guess that infant baptism thing was not as important as it was to him? Can you say, “frauds”?
These men get fame and bank off Jesus. It is a business and they are the ruling classes of Christendom. Piper just did not get the memo that he cannot save Patriarchy. He thinks he can. It fits perfectly with his male determinist god he has been hawking for years.
These are sad sad men.
Great article, Cindy. These interminable lists of questions for the boyfriends drives me nuts just like Wayne Grudem’s Talmud of do’s-‘n’-don’ts for gals in the church. I’m surprised, though, that you didn’t mention Doug Wilson’s classic from about 7 years ago: 21 Questions for a Prospective Suitor, against which we then pushed back and parodied in our “interview” with Doug Wilson in 2012.
Then there’s Stacy McDonald’s 100+ opus. Some of these others are new to me, though. Looks like I have a lot o’ list-readin’ to catch up on!
Dads dating their daughters boyfriends? You don’t *even* want to know what that sounds like to me. Weird. Perverse. In the extreme.
Still, I’ll have to admit that, after having skimmed the article in question, I can see where it could make a good deal of sense. But only if we still married our children off at age 12. Given that our children tend to be a good deal older than 12 when marriage is being considered, the practices recommended in the article come across as very, very infantilizing.
I do hope nobody from the wrong camp reads this comment. I just really, really don’t want them picking up on the idea that the only Biblical practice is to marry our children off at age 12.
…and making sure women know their place and stay there. “GOD HATH SAID!!!!”
I can’t prove this in a test tube, but when I saw Piper speak, every “NARCISSIST” alert in my brain went off. Musicians like Shane & Shane are so tender and devoted in their own ministry, and it breaks my heart to see them yoked together with this guy. Cindy, if Piper is in league w/ the High-Demand homeschooling movement, I think I’ll have a heart attack & die from Not-Surprise. Thanks for the great article!
47 min mark of the Scott Brown video posted above:
“One of the questions I like to ask men are, hey, how many of your friends, how many of your best friends are 13 years old? And I ask that question because I think it’s important for older guys to know 10-12-13-14-15 year olds so that they know the hearts of these men, and also that they’re investing in these men.”
This is just gross. Since when is are 10-12 year olds called “men?”
Besides, I thought the father was supposed to do the mentoring and discipling? Don’t these patriarchs have enough to do – what with working 2-3 jobs so the wife can stay home and homeschool (not everyone is “blessed” with their own businesses)…and being the spiritual leader (whatever that means)…and being the prophet, priest and king…and continually washing his wife with the water of the word so she can understand the bible since she may not on her own…and teaching his children day and night…etc., etc., etc. Now the exhausted patriarch has to mentor other people’s kids?
From the Kelly Bradrick video at the end:
“My father fell in love with Peter before I did.”
I wonder if Scott is still in love with Peter now after all that has happened? If he isn’t, can Kelly call it quits too (beings Scott picked Peter out for her-surely Scott wouldn’t want his daughter to love someone he is out of love with, would he)?
“Can you say, “frauds”?”
So I just read the article by Hannah Thomas Cindy linked to. She talks about a scene in a movie (I guess it was a movie, or a show) called Juno where the teenage girl tells her parents she’s pregnant. Apparently Strachen uses this scene to make point in his book.
But the thing is, the scene he describes is not the scene from the show. Hannah links to the scene in question so you can watch it. I mean, there are similarities in that the girl says she doesn’t know what kind of girl she is. And I suppose there are some things that could be interpreted as Strachen presents them as they are somewhat subjective. He describes the girl as “confused and adrift” and the father as “angry.” I guess could possibly be true, sort of, in that the girl does have a brief moment of what looks like maybe confusion, or something. Though I think the girl really had he wits about her and her head on straight. She had a plan going forward and knew how she wanted to handle it. She was quite pulled together, really. And her father was not exactly overjoyed. I suppose he could have been angry, though he did seem to take it well, under the circumstances, as did her mother. But there were objective things that didn’t happen that Strachen says did, like “tears rolling down her face” and her lips quivering. These were not there, as Hannah rightly points out.
I have no way of knowing exactly how it is Strachen managed this disparate description of the scene, but I do think if this is in any way representative of Strachen’s book, a reader might want to make sure they do a significant amount of fact checking as they go along.
Diane! I’ve been holding out, waiting for someone else to say it. I thought that the Scott Brown thing sounded like Oscar Wilde’s court testimony about the “love that dare not speak its name.” If you didn’t know that this was a video about an element of courtship, you’d swear this guy was a pedophile. That “waiting for the eleventh hour to get to know men” phrase also burned into my brain because of the creep factor when I first heard it, and now I can’t get it out.
Scott Brown, you’re not BFFs with a 13 year old when you’re a grown man because (unless you’re something of a surrogate for an orphan) it’s not appropriate and it’s not healthy. The kid has his own father. Single parents don’t fit into the FIC anywhere, so it’s doubtful that you’d consent to marry off your daughter to a young man from a broken home — and he has his own dad. (But that doesn’t always work out so well, either. I’m glad you didn’t save Kelly for an Eric Jackson.)
I played this video while my husband was sitting in the room while doing work that he brought home with him from the office. I had no idea that he was paying attention to it, and he suddenly started ranting about it. (He also flipped out over Voddie Baucham in that film, but that’s a whole other story.)
Thank you, Diane. You said all of the same things that I did –right down to the question about what transpired between himself and Kelly because of Peter’s decision to talk publicly about Phillips. It’s a mess, isn’t it?
If you want to help your daughter find a good man, the best way to do that is to live a high standard — by treating your wife well. It sets the bar for what your daughter will find acceptable from a spouse. You don’t achieve that by running her life or dating her or giving her rings or getting her to shave you, or by dating her boyfriend.
Barnabas in Training,
But the thing is, the scene he describes is not the scene from the show.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Bingo! You win the prize.
It’s crazy-making, isn’t it? But at least Strachan is following suit with his predecessors. They do the same things that he has. Without the informal logical fallacies of equivocation and ambiguity, these guys have very little to preach.
Cindy, since they like to re-imagine reality, maybe we can just treat their work as fiction or something. You know, alternate universe stuff. 🙂 Based on a true story. 🙂
The fish was THIS BIG!!
Maybe in the next edition of this book the girl will be wailing on the floor with loud heaving sobs of grief! 🙂 And her frothing at the mouth father will make her shave him for penance. And he’ll make the boyfriend shave him too! 😀 I mean, you know, since they’re going to be dating….
ROFLOL, Barnabus. You’re definitely the son of consolation (via humor) today.
At that father daughter thing, they also blindfold daughters, give them a rope, and then daddy leads them round by it. They should do that with a daughter’s boyfriend, too. (They should definitely do it with the guys that they want to run off!) 😀
Thank you, JA and Serge. I learned much of this kind of thing from a former member of Gregg’s church. I love her dearly and am grateful for all she has taught me.
I have so little tolerance for Wilson… I’m sure he cribbed many elements of his own courtship list from some of these other folks — as he is given to plagiarism.
Though I love metaphors, I don’t use three per sentence, and I’m just not as hip and clever as Wilson. And I don’t think that it’s a glorious thing that the children of the heathen die naked in the streets, and I don’t think it glorifies God when the “non-elect” heathens have abortions. There are just so many reasons why I can’t stand him.
Any grown man who wants to make a ‘best friend’ out of my grandson when he is 13 will have to get past me.
What are some tangible differences between complementarianism and Patriarchy? They seem like one and the same to me.
Isn’t that Lourdes Torres prominently featured in the last video for Return of the Daughters? Voddie Baucham asks: “By the time she is 20, 21, 22 years old, if she hasn’t gotten that degree, she hasn’t gotten that job, somehow we have failed. But according to who?”
Dr. Baucham, the answer is to your question is, according to nobody besides the strawman you erect just to courageously knock down. If you haven’t allowed space for your daughter (or son) to become a strong independent woman (or man) who THINKS FOR HERSELF, and takes ownership of her own life, you have failed not just as a parent, but a human. With this bizarre system of patriarch, you are striving to achieve the exact opposite. The Stepford Wives was supposed to be a satire, not a guidebook. These guys are becoming caricatures of themselves.
Should a mom date her son’s girlfriend? Or do moms not have anything important to offer? Or are the sons’ girlfriends just not as important as the daughters’ boyfriends? Why is this stuff always so one-sided? Don’t answer that; I already know the answer.
That is Lourdes. I felt bad for her then, and I’m happy that she’s on her way out of this mess.
Date your daughter’s boyfriend? Who’s gonna date the son’s girlfriend?
I had one “boyfriend” in high school. Dad & Mom went out on a double date with us (dinner and a movie – Mom & Dad picked the restaurant, we picked the movie). The guy broke up with me 3 weeks later (’cause I said, “No.”). When I got engaged, my Dad & Mom came to visit me (out of state) and we took my parents to dinner and a DC Talk & Michael W. Smith concert… We’ve been married 20 years… 🙂 But, I can NOT imagine my Dad “dating” my boyfriends. Now, my hubby might clean the shotgun when the future boys start wanting to date our daughter 😉 Seriously… Hubby just tells her to think carefully about the kind of man she wants her husband to be and look for those kind of guys and get to know them. These guys my daughter is around have parents and guidance from them – and the Holy Spirit if they’re Christians, right?
When my first date came over to our house for an evening, my dad decided to recreate a blow dart gun after reading something in Mother Earth News. He put a target up under the TV and blew darts at it while we sat there.
I warned the guy who is now my husband about this, saying that I never knew what he would do, and he might just exceed the weirdness of the blow darts. So when my husband met him, he just went ahead and asked my dad to get out the blow darts.
I never even spent time with anyone who I didn’t want to bring over to my house. My concern was never about what my parents would think. It was always a matter of what they would think about my parents’ colorful antics.
Doesn’t “know” have a special (and erotic) meaning in Christianese?
AKA “Know in the Biblical Sense”?
“Desiring God and Daddies Dating…Their Daughters’ Boyfriends?”
Hey, when are they going to start advocating for the mothers to start “dating” the girlfriends of their sons?
They can also have Mom and Son Purity Balls where the sons get to shave dear old Mom’s fuzzy legs.
Julie Anne said,
😆 Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Is there any similarities between these guys and the fundi-Mormons like those that follow Jim Jeffords? Seems like all this courtship stuff would cause a lot of competition for women among younger men.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Do you mean Warren Jeffs?
lol…sorry. yep Warren Jeffs
BTW, I saw on Facebook that Voddie Baucham’s daughter, Jasmine, is engaged: https://www.facebook.com/VoddieBaucham/photos/a.422887592549.200237.227409437549/10152347376087550/?type=1
In this thread, Voddie references his book, What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter. Jasmine’s fiancé is Voddie’s assistant.
Interestingly, with the announcement of Jasmine Baucham’s engagement, all the young women profiled on the Botkins’ DVD are now married, or soon to be (and yes, count me among the many who are thrilled for Lourdes and her husband, and hopeful that justice will prevail in her lawsuit against Doug Phillips). The Botkin daughters, on the other hand, are still living their lives in service to Daddy. “Creep meter,” indeed. Everything about “The Return of the Daughters” is revolting. It’s emotional incest by another name.
HUG, I definitely thought of the same thing. Phillips knew what it meant. Maybe Brown didn’t think of it that way when he said what he said. Let us hope.
Jonathan, It seems that fathers prefer keeping their daughters at home, more like Marian describes. There are unmarried young men, too, and widowers are not getting married to young girls to my knowledge.
There are lots of similarities between the groups on the surface of things. The dress is similar, and their often preoccupied by the same things. Both fertility cults venerate sexuality and reproduction, so you do see similar interests and women must “keep sweet.” A friend of mine always talks about seeing packs of these types of homeschoolers and can spot them a mile away because of their clothing and the way they behave. But until RC Sproul, Jr. remarries a young, nubile thing and starts cranking out more kids, I’m hopeful that the similarities are just superficial.
I’ve heard and have no way of verifying that the Mormons liked VF material, as they liked Phillips’ late father’s politics. (And look at how popular Fascinating Womanhood is with Ladies Against Feminism.) I’ve read two texts from the Unification Church (Moonies) that also raved about how much they liked all of the Quiverfull literature.
“The other issue that bothered me about the Desiring God article concerned this idea of the mentoring and discipling of a potential suitor for a daughter by that daughter’s father.”
This is a definite change. I’ve always heard the idea of a young man finding somebody’s submissive daughter to disciple into his own beliefs.
Where is Jesus in all of this? Remember Him, the Divine Savior of All?
What does ensuring “man-on-top” in any relationship have to do with spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Just looked at the NCFIC page. It all has to do with church — and people — management. Nothing about understanding the law, understanding the Gospel…
Nothing about serving others, as we can talk to do. Nothing about feeding, clothing, visiting…
These guys are social engineers under the cloak of religion. We could substitute Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, Atheism, and their message would be the same! Dominate. A true pity that this passes for religious instruction and edification.
Who looks for this sort of guidance? And how can we get to them first, with what really matters?
Why am I thinking of a certain family Patriarch named Tywin Lannister?
This sounds like something he’d be into.
Has it hit the Craster’s Keep level of Creep?
Remember Voddie’s sermon about how as a man gets old his eyes turn more to young nubile young women, “and that’s why God sends him daughters”? That’s approaching the Craster’s Keep level.
An older man’s good friends should be teens? creepy Sacrifice your daughters for God? doubly creepy
However, when it comes to Animal Forced Dominance Display….
I read the foreword (John Piper) and the introduction (Owen Strachan) to that new e-book “Good” (which is a collection of various writers on how they think men and women are supposed to behave in the kingdom of Christ). The intro was about as far as I could get. Strachan makes one of his main points by creating a family that didn’t actually exist, and then holds up the fictional father’s behavior as a model for how to do fatherhood right.
If I create a wonderful fictional character I can make everything turn out right too. But his intro is completely lacking in factual support, and that is the problem I see over and over again with these types of books. They are not “here’s what worked for me” writings but rather are heavy on “here’s what you have to do” and have no research cited to show that they have a track record of really working in people’s lives.
So, Tim, it sounds as if you are suggesting that Owen lives and responds from his perch in Biblical Gender Fantasyland.
Also known as BGF. No known relation to spiritual or temporal reality.
I’m still waiting for the CBMW to come out with their own Bible translation to help us understand Biblical roles for men/women. I know they love the ESV, but one publisher of ESV really oopsied by allowing women contributors. Shameful. Real Biblical men would not be seen holding one of those bibles.
I just get the feeling that these people are one special revelation away from polygamy.
Do you know if any articles or studies have been done from the young man’s point of view. A lot of attention has been focused on a woman’s relationship with her father, especially in the courtship model. But what about the effects on a young man. Since this movement is really about control what happens to a man that can’t or wont be given a wife.
It doesn’t surprise me that Mormons like VF crap. They’re both pietistic movements. Birds of a feather an all.
I know that Lewis Wells did start to tell his story at The Commandments of Men, but he didn’t finish because people turned it into an adventure in voyeurism. It might be helpful. His would be Father in Law called off his wedding at the last minute, then set out to destroy his career.
And Steve at his blog which discusses “I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness” might be of interest.
I don’t keep up with most of the personal stories, but No Longer Quivering at Patheos might also be a good source. Take a look and check into the writings of the men who blog there:
BruceGerencser.net (a former minister now atheist) may also have some good perspective. I imagine that if he hasn’t written about this topic already, he could probably write to order on the topic if he can.
I don’t see these folks getting into polygamy, mostly because they’re too uptight sexually. Though that doesn’t seem to stop the Mormons, does it?
It appears that the men in such systems also get hosed:
The lost boys, thrown out of US sect so that older men can marry more wives
JA @ 10:37 am –
Crossway is in the process of producing a Women’s Study Bible. You wanna bet on whether or not it will be full of notes on proper behavior for women? But of course they are producing this to bless the women. Women certainly need a separate but equal bible!!
Maybe they will color code it. Pink, blue, purple, and gold. Purple will apply to both sexes, and gold for leadership. It will be their help to women’s discernment.
Here is the propper ESV for women.
This sums up the description –
“With specially prepared features and thoughtfully written material, the Women’s Devotional Bible is designed to help women pursue a deeper, transformational understanding of Scripture.”
We need this because a regular Bible comes up short in informing women? I might need to buy it just to see what it says — sheesh.
At least the outside isn’t pink.
If Doug Wilson is blogging at Desiring God and Gregg Harris is speaking at Bethlehem’s retreats, I’m not sure we really need to ask this question.
And Voddie Baucham now headlines at JMac’s Shepherd’s Conference and RC Sproul Sr’s Ligonier Conference….
Tell me what the real difference there is. I’m told that they’re not pushing the same stuff and was reprimanded for saying that they were a few years ago. Yeah, sure. Pee on my shoe and tell me it’s raining.
Third attempt to get the tags right…
Herd animal harem behavior.
The Alpha Male/Herd Bull claims all the females in the herd for himself and himself alone. Including driving out his own male offspring when they reach puberty and become sexually-mature MALES — rivals for the females.
I read the “Dad, Date Your Daughters’ Boyfriend” article, and I was left wondering: What’s the problem with that article specifically? It seemed well-written and sounded like a simple call for Christian fathers to befriend and mentor their daughters’ boyfriends. I’ve always been under the impression that the idea that older Christians should help younger ones is in keeping with biblical standards, and the context of the article implies that the author is speaking to fathers who genuinely seek to follow Christ, not to those who are simply trying to be dictators over those around them.
A therapist acquaintance of mine, Bob Edwards, wrote this comment elsewhere about the article. He’s author of a good book on egalitarianism and he often blogs at the Junia Project. http://www.amazon.com/Let-My-People-Go-Oppression-ebook/dp/B00DV2JRHQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1403095993&sr=8-3&keywords=Bob+Edwards
He wrote about his concerns that I might sum up as the “undifferentiated ego mass.” (It’s the term created by the originator of family therapy, and I really like his model. The goal of a parent should be to have raised a fully differentiated adult. In these religious families, it doesn’t happen.) The adult child must derive who they are from their family, not as their own soul, essentially.
Bob quotes something that I wrote, then expounds:
“In the patriarchy movement…there is much talk of taking and making a daughter’s potential mate over into the preferences preferred by the daughter’s father and his family.”
That’s one of the things that bothered me most also Cindy.
I’ve been doing marriage and family counselling since 1996. I also taught Marriage and Family as well as Relational Counselling for the undergraduate program at a Bible College.
Through the eyes of sociology and family system’s theory, the model being advocated by CBMW would likely be considered both patriarchal and enmeshed–an unhealthy amount of authority arbitrarily invested in “the patriarch,” and a lack of respect for the psychological and relational boundaries of adult children and their partners.
The patriarch make decisions for the adult daughter. Presumably the process looks different for adult sons. That’s gender-discrimination, and it communicates a developmentally unhealthy message to women.
The patriarch also assumes the role of mentor for a prospective son-in law. It’s his job, according to the CBMW, to ensure that the male suitor is capable of caring for the daughter for the rest of her life. Again, this communicates a developmentally unhealthy message of dependence on males to the adult daughter. It also fails to consider whether or not the daughter’s love interest wants to be discipled, mentored, or made into the image of the father’s ideal care-taker.
Good points from your counselor friend, Cindy. My wife and I constantly said “You raise ’em up to move ’em out” as our kids went through their teens. You certainly don’t raise kids up to become adults who only act in parent-approved manner the rest of their lives; that puts too much stock in the parents always being right and none in the kids being able to follow Jesus in their own relationship with him.
Regarding the idea of patriarchs mentoring potential suitors for their daughters in order to make sure daddy’s girl will only marry someone who already thinks like her old man, that actually fits right in with concepts like Geoff Botkin’s 200 year plan. If the family patriarch thinks he has life and theology all figured out, combine that with adherence to Reconstructionism, and of course he’s going to try and replicate himself in the outcome of every one of his adult children’s marriages.
“Daughters are not dead ends.” I can’t remember now who said that, but it was part of a long blog post by some would-be patriarch. It was said after talking about the importance of one’s children only marrying into “likeminded” homeschooling families, as well as how sons would extend their “legacies” into other mens’ families via marriage. The author (unintentionally, I’m sure) painted a picture of a bunch of first generation neopatriarchs basically jockeying for power within the subculture by seeing whose daughters they could get for their sons, as well as looking for the most prominent young men to (hopefully) court their daughters. Dang, this is starting to sound like regency era England among the landed gentry and above…
I couldn’t help but also be reminded of David Bayly likening the wedding ceremony to the groom’s “victory song” over the bride and her father. Ick…
I think usually this is true, and yeah, when that happens it is discriminatory, but I’ve heard stories where the sons were controlled too, albeit more subtly, by being pressured to work in the father’s family business, etc. Also some where “honor your father and mother” was interpreted as lifelong obedience, so sons were expected to be obsequious to their fathers even into adulthood. And I suspect the pressure cooker would be on full throttle equally for a son or a daughter if the potential mate selection was deemed unacceptable for some reason.
May have been Bill Einwechter. He did a whole lecture on multigenerational faithfulness that I reviewed at my blog. I think Cindy covered his views on that too. He’s usually better known in popular media for talking about stoning rebellious teenagers and gays.
If it was Einwechter, he’s got a lot of other ideas that are even freakier, like the eldest son being some kind of leader in the circle of your descendants and being left a double portion of the inheritance. I explored them in my post. With Einwechter I find it’s especially obvious that what he’s really advocating for, is essentially a nomadic tribal extended-family structure plopped into the 21st century. He doesn’t hide it as well as the others (Phillips, etc.).
It was Einwechter in his sermons about “multigenerational faithfulness.” They used to be on sermon audio, but now, they are on the internet archive. Hester, I had so much trouble listening to him, and there was just so much wrong…
He seems to have fallen from grace with the NCFIC crowd for some reason — a few years before Phillips’ demise. I see him as more of a true believer of this stuff, and the other “leaders” strike me as guys that are in it because it gives them a “brand.” It makes them seem unique. If it stopped working as schtick, I think that they’d change beliefs on a dime. (And then, there’s Swanson. He’s so nuts, I can’t tell what he actually believes.) I think that Einwechter really believes all of these things, and he’d go to his death to defend them. That doesn’t give him a break for saying stupid things, however.
Einwechter was studying Rushdoony before any of these young buck homeschooling guys were around. But he never made it into the Chalcedon Report as an author until after Rush was advanced in age and had given over the reigns to his board. I don’t know if he was a fan of North or not, however. North is his whole other brand of weirdness.
Thanks, Cindy, for your reply to my comment a couple of days ago on this blog post. I really appreciate the time you put into it. Probably, the reason I don’t see much problem with the “Dads, Date Your Daughters’ Boyfriends” article is that I am, myself, complementarian to an extent and believe that male headship in the home and church is biblical. So I suspect I start from viewpoints similar to those of the article author. However, complementarianism aside, it just didn’t seem to me that the author in the article was calling for fathers to try to turn their children and their children’s suitors into exact copies of themselves. In fact, I rather gathered the opposite–that he was asking fathers to give their daughters’ boyfriends a chance even if they’re imperfect and to develop relationships with them. The Bible does seem to call for us to love others and try to be good influences on them, and it sounds to me that “dating” a daughter’s boyfriend is a good way to do that. Now, I don’t know what else this particular author has written, so I could be completely misinterpreting his views, but I personally thought he was simply wanting Christian fathers to seek to be good influences in the lives of their children and their childrens’ friends. In a sense, that’s not very dissimilar to the calling of Christians in every relationship.
Well, I finally had time today to sit down and read the actual Desiring God article so here’s my thoughts.
Not saying that parents can’t counsel, give advice, etc., or that compatibility with the family shouldn’t be taken into account at all, but ultimately whether a given guy can marry the woman in question, is the woman’s decision and only the woman’s decision. Neither parent gets the final casting vote in the matter. Personally, I don’t think guys are required to go to the dad at all and if I had a serious boyfriend, I wouldn’t make him do it. My decision to marry him would be my decision.
Okay, let’s get one thing straight. There’s no such thing as a gender-based “spiritual covering.” It can’t be found in the Bible, and it can only be inferred from the Bible via some very shaky “exegesis” that relies on an overly-literal KJV translation (which I don’t believe appears in any modern translation) of one tiny phrase referencing Abraham and Sarah. The fact that they’ve adopted this concept in any form is terrifying because it means they’ve taken the first step toward males as a higher spiritual caste over women and male intercession between women and Jesus (which is heresy). Even in the above quote, it’s already acquired the common “daughter ownership” overtones, because she’s been reduced to a thing to be handed off between men. It’s only a tiny step between this and the goofy patriarchal claims that courtship is a “dance” between a father and a suitor, with the daughter completely uninvolved.
True, but a lot of the behavior held up in Christian circles as examples of “Biblical” headship, is actually abusive or at least unhealthy in one way or another. I could easily demonstrate this with a side-by-side comparison chart from the book How to Spot a Dangerous Man. So we do need to be vigilant for sharks, but we also need to know what they actually look like.
Conclusion not necessarily warranted from information given. This could be true sometimes, but I can also think of plenty of reasons why all the foregoing might sound scary, that aren’t the guy’s fault at all. Just a few: parents who are so dysfunctional that they’d call a normal guy “crazy” and try to get rid of him; parents who are so invested in X debatable belief (political party, for instance) that they couldn’t handle their son-in-law differing with them on this point and would flip out if he did; parents who call themselves open-minded but would still be unhappy if their daughter started dating someone of another race/ethnicity.
There’s a documentary in the works about a woman practicing courtship, with a “spiritual father” (in this case, older married guy from church) as her covering. The reason she had to go find him, was that her biological father thought the whole courtship thing was nuts. This reminds me way too much of that (though it was a little better because it was focused mainly on women whose fathers were dead). It always made me scratch my head, because fathers are supposedly so central, and yet suddenly when they won’t go along with the program, they’re summarily tossed aside and replaced with a “spiritual father.”
Overall, agreeing with Cindy here. The article wasn’t all bad, but when it is bad, it reeks of patriarchy.
Thanks for your understanding comment. I actually don’t have a problem with wives looking to their husband for leadership though husbands look to their wives for guidance and wisdom. I was taught that God gives a spirit of wisdom to His women. In Exodus, the women spun goat hair cloth in the spirit of wisdom. There is a wise woman in Samuel 20 who speaks to Joab. I was taught to rise to the challenge of cultivating wisdom in my heart to bless the Body (and my husband), stirring up the gifts of God within me.
I took one marriage vow at my wedding: to submit unto my husband as unto [with the same level of seriousness that I make the choice to submit unto] the Lord. (You guys are probably sick of hearing me repeat that.) However, that vow doesn’t override mutual submission that is set forth earlier in the Eph 5 chapter, for I believe that husbands also submit unto their wives. There is a depiction of Christ’s love for the Church in the mystery of marriage, and I want to fully embrace all of the wisdom that’s held in that analogy to better understand God’s greatness. Christ is the chief cornerstone — the “kephale of the corner” — and is a point of origin and orientation. With my husband as my head, he becomes my point of origin and orientation. (Now, what that means to me may not match how others define it.)
I once gave a talk, and I had a student sit back and say, “You’re so hyper-egalitarian,” and I laughed. Egalitarians often call me a comp. I basically don’t care what people believe so long as they don’t use the teachings to justify and/or facilitate abuse. I’m outspoken about this issue because of the abuse and because of the lack of liberty in love that is extended to the egalitarian.
Now, that aside, I agree with Hester’s observation that the guy goes amiss when he makes the comment about spiritual covering. I don’t find that concept in Scripture. The only covering I believe in is that which the Blood affords me. I have no intercessor but Jesus, my great High Priest after the order of Melchezidek. If women who approached Jesus or those whom He approached were asked to call their spiritual covering to Him or to any of the apostles like Paul, I would say that there might be some room to argue. But we don’t see Jesus or Paul doing that and making distinctions because of gender. At the foot of the Cross we are all equal.
I see that as entirely different as the responsibility that a father bears for his young ones until they are adults, but even in old Judaism, a wife and daughter bore the consequences of her actions directly. Isaiah 30:1 also says that the Spirit is our covering and that we should not take coverings that are not of Him. In I Cor 11, if you want to interpret things that way (I don’t and see it as a cultural reference according to a grammatical historical hermeneutic), this only applies to husbands and wives anyway. It says nothing about daughters and not anything about daughters who are of age. (My father was never my husband.) Moses didn’t deem that Zelophehad’s daughters needed any covering and could receive their father’s portion of their inheritance. I Tim 2 says that we have no mediators between us and God, save Christ. Romans 14 says that we all stand before God’s judgment seat without an intermediary.
And even in old Judaism, a husband is not held accountable for the sins of his wife. http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2008/05/man-does-not-answer-for-sins-of-his.html
Apart from 1 Corinthians 11 which I think that a complementarian has room to argue for “headship,” and considering that I hold to a different interpretation of that passage, I don’t see evidence — particularly in the New Testament — for this role of covering. There are arguments for hierarchy within marriage (for the sake of order) that I respect and may not agree with, and parents must certainly provide for their children, but once of age, I don’t believe that fathers are coverings of any kind for their daughters. We are covered with the Blood of Christ and the Spirit — the only covering that we need as Believers.
I also tried to be clear that I don’t know what to make of some of this. So much of this discussion of Ephesians 5 and the alleged role of husbands to sanctify their wives is so ambiguous in complementarianism (how does sinful flesh [husband] make sinful flesh [wife] holy anyway?) I really must question these statements about this spiritual covering stuff when it comes from this source.
I also recalled phrases in the article that were too familiar — phrases that I’ve heard in hard core Vision Forum and Gothard patriarchy. Am I just hypervigilant? I might be. I might not be. I don’t think I am. If I have to constantly work at discerning what these guys are saying and have to give them so much benefit of the doubt, I think that it’s easier just not to read them and can stick to the Word and my local pastor — or that which I learn from my husband (or any other fellow Christian).
FWIW, I’ve loved to watch the cultivation of the relationship between my father and my husband. Everyone can be a teacher for us in some way, and there is a holy trust that fathers and husbands share in the woman that they both love so dearly. Sometimes after marriage, the husband protects the daughter from her father — especially if that father is in error in some of the ways that Hester mentioned.
The idea of these two men with so much in common developing a friendship and the FIL having an elder position in that relationship isn’t the problem at all.
Gary W said: “Dads dating their daughters boyfriends? You don’t *even* want to know what that sounds like to me. Weird. Perverse. In the extreme”.
Thanks, Gary. I was afraid that I was the only one…..
Just found this and had to chuckle.
Thanks so much for this… I have learnt alot!